May 21st, 2008
11:10 AM ET
13 years ago

Lieberman: Obama not willing to 'stand up to the left wing'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Sen Lieberman has traveled with McCain on the campaign trail."] (CNN) - Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee, took his criticism of Barack Obama to a new level Wednesday, writing in an op-ed that Republican John McCain’s “political courage” stands in stark contrast to Barack Obama’s – and that his former party had moved “further to the left than it has been at any point in the last 20 years.”

"When total victory did not come quickly in Iraq, the old voices of partisanship and peace at any price saw an opportunity to reassert themselves, Lieberman said in the Wall Street Journal piece, adapted from a weekend speech. “By considering centrism to be collaboration with the enemy – not bin Laden, but Mr. Bush – activists have successfully pulled the Democratic Party further to the left than it has been at any point in the last 20 years.

“Far too many Democratic leaders have kowtowed to these opinions rather than challenging them. That unfortunately includes Barack Obama, who, contrary to his rhetorical invocations of bipartisan change, has not been willing to stand up to his party's left wing on a single significant national security or international economic issue in this campaign,” said Lieberman, who has endorsed the Arizona senator’s presidential bid.

"In this, Sen. Obama stands in stark contrast to John McCain, who has shown the political courage throughout his career to do what he thinks is right – regardless of its popularity in his party or outside it. John also understands something else that too many Democrats seem to have become confused about lately – the difference between America's friends and America's enemies,” wrote the Connecticut senator.

Lieberman added that there were occasions when the tough diplomacy advocated by Obama might be called for, but that he believed the Illinois senator was advocating “a blanket policy of meeting personally as president, without preconditions, in his first year in office, with the leaders of the most vicious, anti-American regimes on the planet.

"Mr. Obama has said that in proposing this, he is following in the footsteps of Reagan and JFK. But Kennedy never met with Castro, and Reagan never met with Khomeini. And can anyone imagine Presidents Kennedy or Reagan sitting down unconditionally with Ahmadinejad or Chavez? I certainly cannot."

Two months ago, Lieberman compared to Democratic icon John F. Kennedy.

“I'm a Democrat who came to the party in the era of President John F. Kennedy,” Lieberman told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week. ”It's a strange turn of the road when I find among the candidates running this year that the one, in my opinion, closest to the Kennedy legacy, the John F. Kennedy legacy, is John S. McCain.”

“…The Democratic Party today was not the party it was in 2000. It's been effectively taken over by a small group on the left of the party that is protectionist, isolationist and basically… very, very hyperpartisan. So it pains me,” he said.

Earlier this month, he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he didn’t question Obama’s commitment when it comes to the Middle East, but said the Illinois senator's failure to set pre-conditions on the meeting shows inexperience, and “not only gives prestige [to Ahmedinajad], but threatens our allies in the region.”

soundoff (239 Responses)
  1. JP

    Why don't Joe Lieberman and Geraldine Ferarro run for something together?

    Maybe on the "Crazy former Veep wannabees" ticket?

    May 21, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. Brian from Fort Mill, S.C.

    Lieberman is just jealous because he's not on Obama's short list!

    May 21, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  3. Independent for Obama

    Seriously – Lieberman isn't even a democrat, just like Hagel isn't really a republican.

    Why don't they just call themselves independents? It is a little hard to believe anything they say when even their affiliation is a lie...

    May 21, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  4. Julie

    Ah, another old man shouting at a cloud.

    May 21, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  5. John in KY

    The mouth-piece for McBUSH has spoken!!
    sit down & shut up JOE!!!!

    May 21, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  6. Tim

    Joe, just a few questions. Were we friends with the Russians? Were we friends with North Korea? Were we friends with Lybia? I think the Rebublican party is talking out both sides of it's mouth. Also, we still remember that McInsain said that we went to war for oil!!!!

    Obama 08/12

    May 21, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. HTA, Chicago, IL

    Ok, the Dems can take Hagel and Republicans can have Lieberman. I would love to see a McCain-Lieberman ticket. It would be electrifying and energetic.

    I would also add that the reason why Gore lost in 2000 was because he picked Lieberman.

    May 21, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. Dr. Truth, Boston

    Lieberman is unable to stand up for anything, Never before has there been a greater warhawk than Joe Lieberman.

    He simply lied through his rotting teeth when he said he was a Democrat and would vote like a Democrat if re-elected!

    Liars backing liars who support lies to start wars. This is not a goverment for the people!

    May 21, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  9. j lyon

    Why is it so wrong to question? All of you Barack backers don't want anyone to question anything. I think the reason is you won't question him. He stands for change...but name one thing that his party believes that he doesn't? If there isn't anything, and the conservatives aren't running the country since dems are running Congress, what exactly do you want to change??

    May 21, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. jake

    I'm glad he left the democrat party. We don't need any idiot like that on our side.He has his nose up Mcsames butt thinking hes goingo be the next vp. He is in for a surpise.

    May 21, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  11. Amazing!!

    Oh please! Obama stands up for what he believes is right. Hence NOT voting for this very wrong war. The idea that not standing up for what Leiberman feels is wrong means that Obama doesn't stand up for what is right is arrogant on Leiberman's part.

    May 21, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  12. Ding, Washington, DC

    Give me a break Senator Joe Lieberman!. Why would n't remind your friend Senator McCain that he was released from Hoa prison due to diplomacy.

    May 21, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  13. Helene

    Judas, shut the hell up and focus on your dear McCain. You have NO advice or comment or suggestions to give us. They are unwelcome, get it and get used to it ? You are a loser of the worst kind.

    May 21, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  14. Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA



    May 21, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  15. j gannon

    Who cares what he says or thinks! A nobody!

    May 21, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. Trenton Sims, Los Angeles

    The Peoples Judas... Joe Lieberman...

    May 21, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. Jason

    This war is not a partisan issue. You have people on all sides of the fence ready to acknowledge that it has and continues to damage our economy, military, foreign relations and political standing worldwide.

    You don't have to be "far left" to see the merit in withdrawal.

    May 21, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  18. TexasLady

    I'm a staunch republican, but, if I weren't so concerned about how terribly far left Obama has moved, I would conisider the change. However, I don't agree with the swing to the left the dems have made – it frightens me. I don't want to live in a socialist country!

    May 21, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  19. W.

    This, from a guy who's unquestionably one of the most, ahem, centrist Republican Presidential candidates in recent memory.

    May 21, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  20. Bushwhacked in Eugene, OR

    Hmmmmm - don't think I personally have moved over to the left. I'm still pretty much in the center where I've always been. I'm just a little louder in my opinion that we need a Democrat in the white house to extricate us from the mess foisted upon us by the Republicans over the last 7 years.

    I have also moved away from the hatred and anger that seem so pervasive within the GOP. We dems have rarely shown that same hatred in return - and that's one reason I think those angry Hillary Supporters and Obama Haters are part of Operation Chaos. If not, they've sure taken a page from the Rush Limbaugh playbook!

    Democrats, unite in November. Let's take back the white house!

    May 21, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  21. bruce

    i am amazed that this man's ideas and ideals have become so distorted. He is beginning to look like a clown on the order of hammity and limbaugh

    May 21, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  22. John, FL

    Awesome. I'm eagerly awaiting Senator Lieberman's replies to the comments on this article.

    I mean, you guys wouldn't be talking to him and telling him off if he didn't regularly read this....right?

    Otherwise, I'm sure you'd have more fun outside spitting at the wind. The target of your outrage would still be completely oblivious to you, you'd still end up with your own vitriol thrown back in your face, and you'd still look like fools.

    May 21, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  23. Dawn, FL

    Lieberman is vying to be the next Vice President under John McCain. John is like George, if he disagrees with something, he'll just change it. He has no patience and is not my idea of a good president because he will never listen.

    Whatever America, if you want more of the same, John McSame is your man, and his yes men will tag along with him. We already have a president who begs for oil, now we'll have one who fights for it.

    i'm voting fo the sensible choice, Obama.

    May 21, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  24. Mollygonz

    Lieberman...just go away.

    May 21, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  25. HH

    Lieberman is a an Isaeli first before American. He just want to jump on any issue that would favore Israel and hinder Arab progress.

    May 21, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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